Quarantine Reading List

Stay busy while stuck inside by picking up a good book

As students, it’s really easy for reading to feel like a chore you do for school and not something you keep up with in your free time. Being stuck inside while you socially distance yourself provides the perfect opportunity to finally get back into the habit of reading for fun or to read the books you’ve never found time for before. Finding a good book will keep your mind fresh when you might be spending too much time on your phone and give you a distraction from scary news or dealing with a hectic family. So pick up that long book you’ve been meaning to read, finally finish the book you started in the fall but “forgot about,” or start fresh and find a new story that will make you feel like you haven’t been living at home in your pajamas for weeks. If you’re not sure what to read or just need a little inspiration, here’s what I’ve been reading over spring break and now during remote learning:

The Overstory by Richard Powers. This is a book that I started over Thanksgiving break but let fall by the wayside as I got busy, so spring break offered me the perfect chance to finish it. The Overstory will suck you in with seemingly unconnected but beautiful family sagas, and leave you with a much larger perspective derived from the natural world. It’s beautiful, impactful, and calming (making it a perfect candidate right now); it didn’t win the Pulitzer Prize for no reason. 

Black Water by Joyce Carol Oates. I found Black Water at a bookstore over a year ago and read about a third of it before leaving the store. But I was in the middle of a good book at the time and ended up forgetting about it. Enter social distancing boredom that led me to clean out my closet and rediscover this novel. Black Water is a wonderfully written reimagining of the events at Chappaquiddick, wrapped up in a short book that you can lose yourself in for a day. 

And the Band Played On by Randy Shilts. This is another book that I’m glad I can finally get around to. Its length was a little daunting, but being stuck at home is giving me plenty of time to tackle it. And the Band Played On is a fascinating work of journalism about the AIDS epidemic that will definitely keep you entertained while you stay at home.

Weather by Jenny Offill. Is the COVID-19 pandemic not enough to stress you out? Want to panic about the climate crisis as well? Weather, a novel that takes you inside the mind of a woman who is struggling to find hope while dealing with family drama and her obsession with disaster preparedness and global warming, may be perfect for you. In all seriousness, this novel is filled with fascinating tidbits, witty humor, and lyrical prose. While now might not seem like the best time to read Weather, it’s a book that I’ve been waiting to read since Offill’s Dept. of Speculation, and it pairs well with a dense non-fiction like And the Band Played On. 

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